DOJ will expand it’s investigation to include community-based mental health care

Dear OSH Advisory Board Members:

I have some news to share with you regarding the USDOJ investigation of the hospital. After yesterday’s meeting, I learned that the Attorney General received a letter indicating that the USDOJ was expanding the scope of its investigation at the Oregon State Hospital to include community-based mental health services. I have attached the letter for your reference, and we expect some media coverage in the newspapers tomorrow.

The letter indicates the USDOJ will be looking at resource allocations to community-based mental health services in the context of allocations made to the hospital. Everyone is in agreement that there is a need to increase the availability of community mental health care so people can receive quality local care. We need to be both supporting local treatment, while maintaining enough capacity at the Oregon State Hospital for people who need a higher level of care.

We’ve enjoyed a positive working relationship with USDOJ as we all work to improve the quality of life and recovery options for people living with mental illness. As in the past, we are looking forward to working cooperatively with them on this issue, and the USDOJ office will contact us with what the next steps will be. I will keep the board apprised as we learn more.

Greg Roberts – OSH Superintendent

November 17, 2010

John Kroger
Attorney General
Oregon Department of Justice
1162 Court Street N.E.
Salem, Oregon 97301-4096

Re: Investigation of Oregon State Hospital

Dear Mr. Kroger:

This is to inform you that the United States Department of Justice is expanding the scope of its existing investigation of the Oregon State Hospital in Salem and Portland Oregon (“OSH”). Our expanded investigation will focus on the State’s compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. 12132, as interpreted in Olmstead v. L.C. 527 U.S. 581 (1999), with respect to the services it provides to persons with mental illness at OSH and other settings across the state.

We have received information from the State and other sources that indicates that Oregon is committing funds to increase institutional capacity while simultaneously making substantial cuts to the budget for community mental health programs. Such budgetary re-allocations in favor of institutional care would appear to run afoul of the ADA’s integration mandate. We also have received information that indicates that Oregon fails to service individuals with mental illness, both those confined and discharged from OHS, as well as those at risk of being institutionalized, in the most integrated setting appropriate to those individuals’ needs. It appears that the lack of appropriate community-based services may be a primary cause of these problems, and our investigation will include an examination of these issues.

We have enjoyed a cooperative relationship with the State during out investigation of OSH to date, including regarding out recent document request, and hope to continue in this manner. We will contact your office shortly to discuss the next steps. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (202) 514-5393, Robert Koch at (202) 305-2302, or Aaron Zisser at (202) 305-3355.

Jonathan M. Smith, Chief of Special Litigation Section

cc: Micky Logan, Senior Assistant Attorney General, State of Oregon; Greg Roberts, Superintendent, Oregon State Hospital; Bruce Goldberg, Director, Oregon Department of Human Services; Richard Harris, Assistant Director of Addictions and Mental Health, Oregon Department of Human Services; Dwight C Holton, United States Attorney, District of Oregon.

READ – DOJ letter in original formatting.
READ – Oregon gets another warning from U.S. Justice about state hospital and mental health care, Oregonian, November 20, 2010
READ – Feds expand investigation of services at state hospital, Salem Statesman Journal, November 20, 2010
READ – New building a catalyst for a new mindset, editorial from the Salem Statesman Journal, November 20, 2010